11 November 2009

Break by Hannah Moskowtiz

Jonah would be an average teenager if his family wasn't so dysfunctional: his parents should be divorced, his brother Jesse is allergic to everything (no, really), and baby brother Will seriously won't stop crying. The only normalcy in his life is his beautifully calm girlfriend Charlotte and his best friend Naomi. He'd be just another average teenager, too, except for his obsession with breaking every bone in his body: 206 in total. He's gotten almost 20 already, and Naomi is documenting every bit of it on film. Only Naomi and Jesse know that Jonah is hurting himself on purpose, until Jonah finally admits it to Charlotte, who tells the principal and he gets sent to a temporary facility for teens with similar mental issues and self-destructive patterns.

Why does Jonah hurt himself? Well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and Jonah's family needs all the strength they can get. Except, to what end?

The ending is a bit too neat for me, but the journey to get there is fascinating. Plus, Hannah Moskowitz is a teenage author and that's bound to appeal significantly to many readers. Recommended to high school readers.
Call number: YA MOSKOWITZ

Reviewed by kate the librarian

09 November 2009

In their own words...

I just finished reading two books that were very similar in style and managed to shed light on the world from almost every angle possible. Both books presented the daily lives of individuals through portraits and interviews. In both cases the pictures of the people represented all walks of life, in their own environments. The quotes spoke from the heart and minds of real people, struggling and enjoying and living out loud.

It's Complicated : The American Teenager by Robin Bowman (2007) depicts black-and-white images of teenagers, ages 13-19, from all geographical regions, socioeconomic backgrounds, races, religions, and lifestyles. They are photographed on their home turf, on their farms and in their city streets. These teens spoke of faith, God, shoot-outs, children (their own, their siblings, their nieces and nephews), sex, drugs, school, their parents, and the government with honesty and respect. The author's disclaimer states "This book contains statements made by these teenagers -- statements I have no verified. I am not making these statements, I am just reprinting them." The statements of these individuals speak volumes about stereotypes, insecurities, and hope for a positive future. For better or worse, one can't help but to see himself on these pages in one way or another.
Call number: YA 305.235 BOW (Nonfiction)

Faces of Sunset Boulevard: A Portrait of Los Angeles by Patrick Ecclesine (2008) gives a broad picture of Los Angeles, California using images of the people that live, work, and play there. In full-color, the reader meets Olympic soccer players, actors, models, unpublished writers, doctors, politicians, drug addicts, and the homeless. Each person has a story to tell about where they came from, how they got here, and where they are going. The fact that it all revolves around the City of Angels and that the majority of interviews are with adults (with a few teenagers and two kids thrown into the mix) limits the teen appeal of this collection.
Request this book through the BCCLS catalog or ask a librarian!
I love fun, real life tidbits of information. These books are easy to flip through, and the people are a blast to get to know.
Reviewed by kate the librarian.

07 November 2009

Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd

I have a soft spot for author Siobhan Dowd. First of all, she's Irish, and that right there is about the best thing you can be in my book. Reading books that are set in Ireland and revolve around Irish characters is awesome for me because I've been to many of the places to which they refer. I've been to Ireland three times, and spent 16 days driving around the country on my last visit. Some of my family is originally from Ireland, but I don't personally know anyone currently living in the country; it's just always been a special part of who I am. The other reason that I have a soft spot for Ms. Dowd is because I read about her death right as I was finishing reading her first teen novel. I can't say that her books are my favorite, but I can say that I would never tire of reading her words, and she's an author to respect and appreciate.

Holly Hogan hates being at Templeton House, a place for kids without families. But she soon discovers that she's not a fan of living in a "real home" with Ray and Fiona Aldridge in London either. The home she does like is the one with her Mam in Ireland, so she's on a mission to get back there, convinced she'll be able to find her mother and live happily ever after. Of course, no one can know that she's running away or she'll be put back in isolation at the Home. So, with a blonde wig she finds at Fiona's, she becomes Solace and she sets out on the road.

Nothing is quite as it seems in Holly's world, and being Solace makes her stronger and smarter and more confident, but never for long. Over the course of her travels, she meets a variety of strangers, and she discovers the truth about her Mam and herself. This is a true coming-of-age story, and while the ending is happy, it is also real in a way that allows readers to respect the struggles and pain that sometimes propels us to get to the end of the road.

Recommended to all readers, notably those who like adventure with a touch of melancholy.
Call number: YA DOWD

reviewed by kate the librarian